Sunday, January 9, 2011

Psychology of a Stalker and the Psychopath...

"A psychopath ain't a professional. You can't work with a psychopath." - Reservoir Dogs (1992)

If you have been trying to wrap your head around why your stalker or the psychopath in your life behaves the way they do, it can be darn near impossible. Whatever the reason, it’s unwanted and can cause fear, disruption, confusion and damage in your life.

You can find countless definitions, interpretations and opinions out there. A jaunt over to Wikipedia can be helpful. You can spend hours, days, weeks, years, decades on research, observations, tests, and try to even categorize the stalker or psychopath. The fact is, they are a different breed.

There is an interesting website hosted by Dr. Sam Vaknin, and an article he has written titled The Stalker as Antisocial Bully. He says that stalkers have narcissistic traits and many of them suffer from personality disorders. He also states that the vindictive stalker is usually a psychopath and that they all conform to the classic definition of a bully.

Bully, huh. Read more about bullies on my post The Serial Bully if you want to evaluate or learn more about a psychopath or stalker.

A lot of people loosely use the term psychopath to describe someone, without knowing what it truly means. Psychopath is a description of a character we can laugh about when we watch a movie, and a word depicted in literature and books.

Defined, in the American Heritage Dictionary, a psychopath is:

"A person with an antisocial personality disorder, manifested in aggressive, perverted, criminal, or amoral behaviour without empathy or remorse."

Basically, if you have taken the time to study the psychopath, you will realize that there is no treatment for these people. Without trying to offend any readers here, unless a psychopath is dead, or relocated to an island they cannot (ever!) leave, or you suddenly become way too boring for them to harass you, they might never leave you alone.

Forget about incarceration, as findings indicate psychopathic convicts have a 2.5 time higher probability of being released from jail than undiagnosed convicts, even though they are more likely to re-offend. Sounds promising, doesn’t it!

"No. Discretion is not traditionally the strong suit of the psychopath." - Frenzy (1972)

If you want to wear an analytical or scientific hat for a moment, here is the Cleckley Checklist. In his 1941 book, Mask of Sanity, Hervey M. Cleckley  introduced 16 behavioural characteristics of a psychopath:

Superficial charm and good intelligence
Absence of delusions and other signs of irrational thinking
Absence of nervousness or psychoneurotic manifestations
Unreliability
Untruthfulness and insincerity
Lack of remorse and shame
Inadequately motivated antisocial behaviour
Poor judgment and failure to learn by experience
Pathologic egocentricity and incapacity for love
General poverty in major affective reactions
Specific loss of insight
Unresponsiveness in general interpersonal relations
Fantastic and uninviting behaviour with drink and sometimes without
Suicide threats rarely carried out
Sex life impersonal, trivial, and poorly integrated
Failure to follow any life plan.

"You want to question a psychopath without professional help?" - Psycho IV: The Beginning (1990)

Forget about relying on the justice system to help you, I mean, to really help you. Psychopaths and stalkers can be so unique - as are the circumstances - so cookie-cutter approaches just don’t cut it.

And the fact is, it is difficult to lay charges and actually convict these types of cases so your energy is likely better utilized finding other ways to spend your precious time. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for locking these people away in a dark hole in a faraway land, but I am not going to sacrifice my life and sanity just so they can spend a few months or years behind bars.

Do yourself the biggest favour and protect your safety and peace of mind by looking out for yourself and your own needs. The police and justice system consistently fail victim after victim, so its pointless to reason with those people if they will not listen, or try to get them to understand your personal tragedy and experience. (Some of those characters are often psychopathic as well, precisely why they are in careers of power and authority).

So, ongoing efforts to engage the police, lawyers and the courts can be equivalent to poking your eyeballs out with a fork. Not an idea of a fun time!

"Some psychopath is out there stalking you, and he stole my tv and it's not a big deal?" - What about Brian (2006)

My advice - just stay the heck out of their reach!

No matter what the threat, try to not let it affect you. File reports and grievances if you like, document it all, but live your life. It is your right! However, it seems these days that it is not our right to tell people who are mediocre and lazy how to do their job properly. Or hold them accountable. Save that for their own superiors. Think of karma or that-what-goes-around-comes-around. Success and happiness are the best revenge...

According to Christopher J. Patrick in the Handbook of Psychopathy, clinicians do not believe that there is a cure nor effective treatment for psychopathy; there are no medications that can instill empathy. It has been scientifically proven that psychopaths who undergo traditional talk therapy only become more adept at manipulating others. This tells me that we cannot help them. There is no hope for them.

In my web research activities, I also came cross an interesting blog, called Souless Psychopaths. It’s a compilation of an assortment of articles and writings, covering topics such as the cult leader as a psychopath to how world governments work their agendas. We have psychopaths in the workplace and creeps running our kids’ Boy Scout groups. Since they are everywhere, we need to find our own ways to manage how their behaviours affect us. We certainly don’t want them to get the best of us, tearing our souls apart.

So how does stalking and psychopathic behaviour affect us?

J.R. Meloy describes in The Psychology of Stalking , the activity of stalking as "the wilful, malicious and repeated following and harassing of another person". Author Eric Blauuw and others stated in The Toll of Stalking that "the prevalence of anxiety, insomnia and severe depression is much higher among stalking victims than the general population, especially if it involves being followed or having one's property destroyed." 

The fact is, the results can be completely devastating, both on our physical and our mental health.

Anyone who has had firsthand experience of harassment and abuse will agree that having a stalker is pretty serious. It can drain the life-blood out of you. Steal away your resources, sever relationships, end careers and suck away at your time. It’s a crime against innocent and unsuspecting people. It is a difficult one to prove, sometimes extremely difficult to get the support we need, and an expensive use of the public’s resources prosecute.

Victims of stalking are faced with insurmountable hurdles when attempting to prosecute a stalker, or even simply terminate the behaviour. Reason being, most victims cannot monitor or control the actions of the stalker. If that was possible, the epidemic would have already been resolved. We would have them all living on the moon, relocated far, far away.

The reality is, it takes a concerted effort of numerous people and agencies, all with ample resources (financial and mental - yes, translation, rich smart people!) to manage the situation. I say manage because there is no guarantee of control over the stalker or psychopath’s behaviour, nor assurance that the pursuance will end. You can only manage yourself and your own reaction.

Who really wants to deal with a psychopathic stalker anyway, let alone give any good advice? Practically no one! Some professionals may advise you to sue them, taking them to court, which costs you money and makes the lawyers wealthier. Some law enforcement officers will suggest what they are trained to - get a restraining order. Not many people will give advice because no one wants to be liable for any bad results.

Even the professionals can have the tables turned on them, becoming victims themselves, adding more to the manipulation and drama. Stalkers and psychopaths are not people to be reasoned with. Threatening them doesn’t work either - it often only inflames the situation.

It is especially a difficult area for single mothers to deal with if they have children from a past abusive relationship with a stalker or psychopath. Big burly boyfriends are not going to suddenly become your knight in shining armour by having a good talk with the psychopath. That rarely works.

Police will avoid doing their job (dealing with a psychopath) by telling us that it is a civil matter to be resolved in the courts; then the judges will direct the victims back to the police to apply for a restraining order. It is a vicious circle.

The stalker or psychopath can also legally bully their victims, which is more often seen when kids are involved or a severed relationship, which disrupts and sidetracks everyone the true problem. And causes extreme financial hardship and grief to their victims.

It isn’t hopeless though, there are answers, and there is help. But a forewarning - the majority of the answers are within you, and you will often be faced with having to go solo on this type of issue, and help yourself.

Every situation is unique, so stalking victims are ultimately responsible to ensure their own privacy, safety and domestic tranquility. (Don’t count on the police to do that for you. Or a big burly tattooed guy from the questionable side of town.)

The fact is, every single one of them is unique and weird in their own disturbed way. Some can be annoying without any threat of physical harm, while others actually do severe damage and kill. Never underestimate a stalker; they all have the tendency or potential to eventually be dangerous.

They are like bullies in the playground of our lives, they can bother us to no end if given the opportunity to play in the same park. - Flora Loveday

Certain methods may not work for every situation and some advice that professionals in the justice system provide can often prove dangerous (or even fatal) to a victim. Prime example, we repeatedly see in news reports that a woman has gone and successfully received a restraining order, and shortly thereafter, is found murdered or seriously harmed.

Question everything you read and every piece of advice provided. One of the best techniques we can all do is tap into personal intuition or to “go with our gut”. If it doesn’t seem right, it isn’t. If it smells bad, it does. If it seems like the right thing to do to be safe or sane, try it.

My next article, Use Your Inner Arsenal and Do a Risk Assessment will explain more about how you can use your intuition to guide you, along with a free online resource to assess any risk you may face with a stalker or psychopath.

Until next time... keep safe and sane…

10 comments:

FH ambassador, Asia-Pacific said...

But then the ducomentary 'I, Psychopath' established Sam Vaknin as a psychopath, so surely it's ironic of him to be giving advice about psychpoathy/ personality disorders? And this is the <fishead movie, http://www.fisheadmovie.com/ it's about psychpoaths.

Flora Loveday said...

Yes, true, Sam Vaknin admits to being a narcissist himself, throughout much of his writing, which likely would make him an expert on the subject, surely. At least we can assume it.

Anonymous said...

I want to say Thank you. Only those of us who have to deal with it or are intelligent about the subject can really connect to a victim. I have an ex-employer that still does the same thing and it has been nearly a decade now and I have moved out of state. What would exhaust a "normal" person with the effort it takes to keep tabs and drive around someone not interested in being with them - is, to a Sociopath - energizing, and thrilling. And when police act in a belligerent and narrow minded way unable to connect the dots that only enthrills the stalker more- making them think they are invincible enough to do it all the more adding to their narcissim and adding insurmountable fear for the victim... knowing there will be more to come and the police have now just given him a pass with their stupidity. It is truly a sick twisted deranged mind to do this.... the obssessive compulsive mental energy it takes to work their mind into a frenzy to find clever ways to place themselves in the victims path or find ways to bait them or have power over them, is just downright frightening when you consider how much pre-meditation and surveillance goes into that.

It is nice to hear that I am not alone in understading the unique and bizarre nature of these stalkers - they are sick in the head for sure - but often smarter than the average patrol cop. It is cold comfort to think that Justice will never prevail... to think that my life is spent looking over my shoulder wondering if I will ever enjoy true privacy again. It has even brought me to a point where I am disgusted with Men because they seem to find it to be a sexist flattering game of cat and mouse - and it is really just a grueling process of dehumanizing of the victim and disrespecting a basic sense of humanity that we hear politicians make great speeches about the value of human rights - but they themselves are not out there acting as the heros we need to back that talk up. They need to use their power and resources to stop the stalker - in his tracks. That is what counts - that is what will make a difference - not the endless speeches or the meetings of mutual admiration gatherings of uniforms who barely dignify a real victim outside the meetings of "talk." So the victims are left alone to deal with a horrific and cold reality and forever questioning Why Me. You are right in that we have to live our lives- but it is hard to look forward when you are looking to see what is creeping up around the corner in yet another car he has grasped to play a sick round of zoom zoom peek a boo. It is amazing how he has no shame or feeling awkward - because really when you look at it on a normal day... it is just sick and pathetic.... and really really bizarre. I don't think I will ever fully get it... other than he happens to be a sociopath and I can at least be glad I am not the one who has to live in that skin.
I just want to be free - free to live my life like the private American citizen I am and be free from this stalker that is like a toxic disease.

Thank you for your article, it does help more than you know. It is one of the few times I feel like 'okay I am really not alone and there are smart people out there that do get how sick and frightening the crime really is.'

Anonymous said...

Oh anonymous...how your email rings true...to the point I wish I could message you privately or contact you somehow - I've been dealing with the same thing for several years with a former boss, too. In fact, I have a feeling, that despite having quit over two-and-a-half years ago, I believe that the stalking started right after I commenced employment with the firm - so...that puts it at around 4 years. Funny part is, is this person is a lawyer...I too am in the legal field. Your comments about dehumanizing the victim, etc., and wanting so badly to resume a private life...are literally the words I have said, verbatim, over the past few years. While I keep telling myself, and the people around me keep telling me, I am NOT the one with the problem when I "freak out" when something new happens or it's ever-so-obvious that this nut has ramped up his efforts, it is the one doing the stalking...it isn't enough. It has to stop. I have to admit though, that reading about your decade long struggle to rid yourself of this, makes me fear for what my future might hold...I truly feel sorry for people who wish harm upon others...I really do. As much I hate this bastard and his little sheep that follow and partake, I have the ability to FEEL...to feel sorry for someone who is so damaged and beyond help, that this what their life has come to...terrorizing other people; what a menace to society.

Anonymous said...

i would like to mention to the woman who spoke about being disgusted in men and their game of cat and mouse. for starters i am being stalked and harassed by a femal, and i am male. she is a doctor in her late 20's and she has been doing everything to me since february 2009. she was my doctor from hospital in january 2009 and has used not just my medical records to track me down but has manipulated people i know including my family turning them against me as a means for finding me and exacting revenge for rejecting her. there are very good and justifiable reasons for rejecting her. yes she is very attractive, but unfortunately not much of a woman. she likes to sleep with as many men as she can to fulfill her desires for pleasure, very rude mouthed, many of the charachter traits as described in of being delusional which is something people should read so as to get a better understanding of the stalker.lacks in empathy and has a poor sense of humour.she doesnt laugh at anything people say. this doctor has some serious issues. she is a vegetarian and criticised me for eating meat. she takes supplements which makes me wonder if she is lacking in nutrients which could possibly cause or contribute to her behavior and way of thinking. curious to know.it is now the 30th of august 2012 and i am at wits end in getting through this all but do manage eventually. i have developed severe depression due to it all but manage to survive. the police dont listen especially considering that she is a doctor. i could go on but whats the point. im sure yous all have done all the same research as what i have done. best of luck people who are being stalked. dont let them get to you. if they see it they will believe they are winning

DC74inc said...

Thanks for this article, helps a lot.

Anonymous said...

I'm amazed, I must say. Rarely do I come across a blog that's both educative and
amusing, and without a doubt, you have hit the nail on the head.
The problem is something that too few men and women are speaking intelligently about.
I'm very happy that I stumbled across this during my hunt for something relating to this.

Here is my homepage ... life insurance

Anonymous said...

Very insightful.. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

thanks. Helps me a lot!

Anonymous said...

8 years ago I was stalked mercilessly until I had to leave my home town with my then 8year old son. It was so cruel to tear my child from his loving family and have him go through the trauma of watching his mother be stalked by a violent psychopath.
5 weeks ago he was let out of prison. People told me I was paranoid thinking he might come after me again after 8years without contact. They were wrong. He was hiding outside my house 3 nights ago and followed me to a service station at midnight. He parked right next to me and just sat there with his car idling, staring at me. He had me blocked in and knew I was cornered. After making eye contact with me he very slowly and deliberately put his car in reverse and drove away.
This might sound rather innocuous to some, but I know better. The message was loud and clear- "I know where you live. I will always find you. And this is only the beginning"
I am once again being hunted like an animal. It is so unfair that one person can do so much damage to another person's life. Grievous bodily harm usually attracts a substantial prison term, but grievous harm to one's emotional, mental, spiritual and psychological well being doesn't even rate.
I don't want to play the victim anymore. One way or another I am going to turn the tables this time.